You can easily set lofty goals for your business; reaching them is another matter. If you find that you consistently fall short of the objectives you set, the problem may not lie in your business operations, but in the objectives you select. Take the time to evaluate your objectives, and measure them against this common business acronym: SMART. This stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific objectives.


You can’t reach vague objectives. For example, saying you want your business to be more profitable leaves employees and managers wondering what actions to take. You must phrase objectives in specific terms. You will find this easier if you focus on one aspect of your business, rather than the overall operation. Look at departments such as sales, production, shipping, and customer service, and set objectives for those departments, rather than all-encompassing objectives for the entire company.


Set standards for reaching your objectives by using numbers. Numbers allow you to measure progress. Instead of saying you want to “increase sales,” say you want “a 15-percent increase in sales.” You can measure 15 percent. Apply numbers to objectives such as increased productivity, lower shipping costs, and a reduced incidence of accidents. You can even apply numbers to items such as customer satisfaction by using customer surveys that ask participants to rate your company on a number scale.


Set objectives that are possible for your business. Do not confuse this with whether objectives are realistic. They could be realistic for another business, but not yours. For example, if you decide to increase sales, but you fire half of your sales staff, your objective is not achievable for the time being. If you just lost a major client, increasing revenues may not be achievable. Look at how your business functions and decide on objectives you know it can achieve.


Stay in the realm of reality when you set objectives. Don’t try to double sales in a month, and don’t try to cut costs in half overnight. Choose smaller objectives that seem like real possibilities. If you truly want to achieve a lofty objective, break it into smaller objectives you can reach in a reasonable amount of time. Avoid get-rich-quick thinking and expectations of a complete transformation of your business in a matter of days or weeks.


Set deadlines for reaching your objectives. “Someday” seldom arrives. Sit down and determine when you would like to achieve each objective, mark that date on your calendar, and communicate it to managers, employers, vendors, customers, and any other stakeholders in your business. Deadlines have a way of motivating people and raising their expectations for themselves, for you, and for your company.